New Bird Flu Cases Confirmed In The UK And The Netherlands

Chuck Bednar for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
Cases of bird flu were confirmed at a UK duck breeding farm and a chicken farm in the Netherlands over the weekend, though public health officials are assuring people that the disease poses little risk to humans.
According to Maarten van Tartwijk of The Wall Street Journal, the Dutch government reported that a strain of bird flu at a farm in Hekendorp (a town located 23 miles south of Amsterdam) had been identified as the highly contagious H5N8 strain.
Government officials have prohibited the transport of poultry and eggs for the next 72 hours, and have also issued a temporary ban on hunting and poultry exhibitions, van Tartwijk added. All 150,000 chickens at the farm are being culled, representatives of the Dutch government told The Wall Street Journal.
On Monday, officials at East Yorkshire said that a case of bird flu had been confirmed at the duck breeding farm. While the exact strain had not been confirmed, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) said that it is not the potentially deadly H5N1 form, according to BBC News.
The case is the first to be reported in the UK since 2008, when chickens at a Banbury, Oxfordshire farm tested positive for the virus, the British news organization added. DEFRA officials said that the risk to public health was extremely low, that 6,000 birds would be culled, and that a six-mile (10 kilometer) exclusion zone would be in effect.
UK chief veterinary officer Nigel Gibbens told the BBC that the two cases may be related, and could also be linked to a case of bird flu reported in Germany earlier this month. He went on to say that additional cases could not be ruled out, and that farmers and veterinarians needed to be alert for diseases and symptoms they cannot explain.
Gibbens also told the UK Press Association that the risk of the disease being spread was “probably quite low” because of the “quick action” taken “to remove the birds as a possible source of further infection,” as well as the exclusion zone, which restricts other farms in the area “to look for possible further spread or possible other infected farms.”
The Press Association noted that most forms of avian flu are harmless to humans, but two types – H5N1 and H7N9 – could be potentially harmful to people. World Health Organization statistics said that there have been 377 H5N1-related deaths in 15 countries as of last July, though there have been no cases of human bird flu infection to date in the UK.
“We understand that there has been an outbreak of bird flu at a Yorkshire duck farm,” a spokesman for the National Farmers’ Union told the Press Association. “We understand from Public Health England that the risk to public health is very low. DEFRA has introduced a restriction zone and there will be a cull of birds on the farm. We will give any further updates when we have more information.”
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